14 years’ jail for promising Hong Kong soccer player ‘looking for quick money’ from drug trafficking
Heung Chun-ho, 21, was caught with a brick of cocaine which he was to deliver for a reward of HK$20,000
An up-and-coming Hong Kong soccer player was on Monday sentenced to 14 years in jail for drug trafficking – an offence he committed while “looking for quick money” to pay off gambling debts.
Heung Chun-ho, 21, was caught with about 827 grams of cocaine, worth HK$970,000 (US$124,350), at his residential building in Lam Tin on May 1 last year, the High Court heard.
The defendant, a part-time security guard who made about HK$5,200 per month, had racked up gambling debts of HK$60,000, his lawyer said. He was promised HK$20,000 for delivering the drugs.
Heung played for local soccer club Kitchee at a five-a-side tournament, the Nike Cup, in 2014 and was named most valuable player in the under-20 category.
Mitigation letters written by his former teachers and principal praised Heung’s “many achievements” when leading his secondary school’s soccer team. “The effect is still felt,” presiding judge Mr Justice Albert Wong Sung-hau said, citing one of the letters.
But Wong said such an amount of cocaine would normally warrant 20 to 23 years of imprisonment. “In this case, I do not see any reasons to depart from that,” he said.
Wong’s starting point for sentencing was 21 years in jail, but he reduced it by a third as a result of the defendant’s guilty plea.
Heung was arrested in a Customs and Excise Department operation. Officers stopped him in the lobby of Lam Wai House, where he lived, in Lam Tin Estate. In his backpack they found a brick-shaped crystal containing 822 grams of cocaine.
When searching his flat, they found a further 4.8 grams of cocaine in a wardrobe, along with some other items including an electronic scale and scissors.
Defence counsel Winnie Chu said Heung, who dropped out of school after Form Five, had heavy gambling debts at the time and committed the offence because he was looking for quick money.
He met a friend called “Ah Man”, who gave him instructions and offered HK$20,000 for the delivery.